Monday, February 27, 2012

Trying to Go Against the Grain: Teaching about the Neolithic and Civilization

In a previous post (The Content of the Form), I noted how many prehistory texts still implicitly paint the human story as one with a definite direction and that direction being towards complexity and hierarchy--the teleological march towards civilization. In my classes, I’m attempting to highlight this hidden story to illustrate its assumptions and how it sometimes can misdirect us from other interesting stories.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Anthro 101: The Exotic and Mundane

Since I teach at a community college, I only teach introductory anthropology classes. While it would be nice to do an upper level class every once in awhile, I’m happy with my position and I do really enjoy introductory classes and think they potentially have a lot of social worth. However, they do pose significant challenges. One of the most daunting is how to make anthropology accessible and meaningful to first and second year students. Most of them have a million things on their mind besides the esoteric weirdness that can sometimes be anthropology. Most work close to full time job schedules outside of school and when in school, most are focused on classes as a means to an end--using school to get ahead professionally and financially. I can’t begrudge them any of those distractions. So I face a potentially tough audience several times a week. But, it’s an audience that I want to impact. I want them to leave my class thinking about themselves and their relationships with other human beings in a new way.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Small Take on Open Access

I don’t have too much to offer to the ongoing discussion on anthropology blogs about the idea of open access (I'll be lazy and simply link to Anthropology Report's coverage), but thought I’d give voice to my little part of the world teaching anthropology at a community college. For me, I support the idea simply because I like the notion of being easily aware of important discussions within the discipline. I can quickly know what the cool kids (said sincerely and without derision) are talking about, despite the fact that I’m the professional equivalent of a basement-dwelling, World of Warcraft-playing introverted hermit (take this recent Savage Minds post for instance).